Law Society report on Liffey Cycle Route suggests part-destruction of Dublin’s oldest bridge to keep traffic flowing

Traffic consultants hired by the Law Society have suggested the destruction of part of Mellows Bridge, the oldest bridge in Dublin City, as a way to keep traffic on the quays at Smithfield after the €16 million Liffey Cycle Route is built.

Based on advice from conservation experts, Dublin City Council already ruled out interfering with the bridge, which was built in 1768. 

But consultants acting for the Law Society suggested that removing part of the walls of one side of the bridge would aid traffic flow.

When asked if the Law Society agreed with the recommendation to interfere with the bridge, Craig Easdown, spokesman for the Law Society of Ireland, said: “We’re welcoming of any further opportunity to work with Dublin City Council or National Transport Authority on finding the best solution to achieving a quality North Quays Cycle Way.”

Where Mellows Bridge meets the quay wall (pictured above and below) creates a pinch point at Queen Street which is the narrowest point on the north quays. The quays proceeding and following the junction also narrower than the average width of the full quays.

On Monday, The Times reported that city councillors and cycling campaigners criticised the Law Society-commissioned report for opposing cyclist’s preferred option because the report doesn’t account for predicted traffic reduction.

Plans to develop a Dutch-like two-way cycle path along Dublin’s quays were first revealed in The Sunday Times in 2011. The 6km route between the Phoenix Park to the Point Village is seen as a backbone in a network of safer cycle routes but the city has yet to choose an option, with the main problem area around Mellows Bridge at Smithfield.

A proposal called Option 7, which is preferred by cycling and public transport advocates, removes private motorists from the quays at Smithfield — objectors claim that this will flood north Smithfield and Stoneybatter with traffic, while opponents say that it will lead to traffic dispersion and reduction.

Because of opposition from some local councillors, Option 8 was development — it would involve buses and general traffic sharing one lane on the quays at Queen Street, with traffic lights giving buses priority. It would cost €3 million extra because of a boardwalk-like structure for cycling at Smithfield.

Opponents of the boardwalk option claim it would cause safety issues between cycling and walking as the cycle route would criss-cross the existing footpath a number of times, and a narrow shared path would also be needed.

Councillors were set to vote on the two options before the National Transport Authority (NTA) paused funding while it reviewed the project. The review is expected to be finalised in about five months from now.

The Law Society commissioned report predicts a “significant” increase in air and noise from traffic pollution with Option 7, contradicting a Dublin city council report which said the pollution changes would be “negligible”.

The consultants for the Law Society recommended Option 8 but instead of having traffic lights regulating the flow of buses and cars at the Liam Mellows Bridge, the consultants suggest the destruction of part of the, which was built in 1768 and is the oldest bridge in the city.

Easdown said: “The Law Society’s independent consultant’s report bases its assumptions on available data drawn from Dublin City Council documentation, and the consultant’s report clearly states both the approximated assumption and where that data relates to, ie Batchelors Walk.”

“The overall premise of our feedback to the Council is that, even if a lower level of traffic impact is experienced, this would will be detrimental enough to traffic flow to warrant our preference for Option 8.”

Easdown said, “We are welcoming of any further opportunity to work with Dublin City Council or National Transport Authority on finding the best solution to achieving a quality North Quays Cycle Way.”

Colm Ryder, secretary of the Dublin Cycling Campaign said: “The report from the Law Society engineer suggests that Option 7 will not work. But the Law Society report is based on inaccurate traffic assumptions and Facile assessment of noise and pollution data.”

“Dublin Cycling Campaign maintains its belief that Option 7, combined with traffic calming initiatives and public realm improvement works in Stoneybatter and Smithfield, provides the best solution for the Liffey Cycle Route.”

16 Comments

  1. Who are these consultants? What are their qualifications in these areas?

    For the upcoming assessment of all the options that the NTA have requested, who will be doing that? Will this be done by people who are blinkered by cars as the be-all-and-end-all?

    Can we have this examined by some Dutch planners and engineers please.

    And whilst we’re talking about consultants and reports, what ever happened to the ‘research’ that was to be done looking into whether the use of cycle-lanes was to be mandatory?

  2. If it boils down to moving the cycling route away from the Liffey or chopping a bit off the bridge, the route should stay by the river.

  3. @Stephen
    If I understand this correctly, the proposal to chop the end off the bridge is to ensure that cars can continue using the quays as well as a new segregated cycle-track.

    However, I’ll bet a lot of money that this will be painted as an historic bridge being demolished to accommodate cycle zealots. This idea is not going to go over well with the vast majority of Joe public who don’t use this route.

    If the bridge is to be altered then it should be described now (by all who are serious about trying to improve the living conditions in our cities) as a way to accommodate motorists and their inefficient polluting selfish and dangerous mode of transport. This shouldn’t be allowed to get out as a meme that the destruction (that’s how it’ll be described) of this historic bridge is to accommodate people on bikes.

  4. I agree with Stephen. If the price of keeping the cycle route on the river is some adjustment to the bridge, I think that’s fair enough. City’s evolve over time. Besides, I don’t think we’re talking about destroying he bridge, surely it’s just a modification to one end.

  5. We need to know who the consultants are for (1) The Law Society and (2) the NTA. Many of the road/traffic consultancy practices continue to demonstrate that they are fairly clueless about cycling and continue to design schemes that fail to enable cycling for all the ages and abilities in urban areas.
    The practices are grounded in motordom (most of their bread-n-butter comes from road and bridge design) and not all the design staff are regular cyclists. The National Cycle Manual (NCM) and the Design Manual for Roads and Streets (DMURS) are simply guidance rather than a prescription.

  6. Law Society consultants’ Report is signed off by Eoin Reynolds of http://www.nrb.ie

    NTA request for tenders here http://bit.ly/2xR3s5T

  7. @Hugh
    Yes, it’s most likely a modification, but it could easily become painted as desecration of an ancient piece of the fabric of Dublin, merely to accommodate cycle fanatics who…. (insert bogus straw-man here). We should all be aware of this up-front and get ahead of the lie.

    If there is modification to be made, then we should all start referring to it as being needed to accommodate cars. Make the cars the culprit here, and not bikes. For too long bikes have been painted as an add-on, as something that we maybe might accommodate IF we have the space, when in fact it should be the other way around.

    Bikes and walking are the natural order of roads and streets. Cars are dangerous polluting noisy interlopers who have managed to paint themselves as the status-quo.

    And also, just to point out once again, that whilst you and me and others who cycle might see the modification of the bridge as a reasonable solution, others will most definitely not be so forgiving. I’m certain that architectural-minded people and those who like old buildings will definitely be up in arms to resist any such changes. And WHEN they do, we should be ready to point out that any modifications are to accommodate the inefficient private motor-car, not bikes.

  8. Mr. Wolf, you are right, we must take a position to reflect any apportion of blame for the impact, which can, again, be classified as environmental – for which cars are always the main culprits.

    But first of all, we need to make sure that the cycle route stays by the Liffey and is fully segregated. This is the city’s statement of intention for its future.

  9. @Stephen
    I fully agree that the cycle-route should stay along the Liffey and should be fully segregated.

  10. Clark in Vancouver November 2, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    Meanwhile in Vancouver, their solution was to widen the end of a bridge. This improved motor traffic access and safety, added a Dutch style protected intersection and more all while retaining the heritage look and even replicating some original Art Deco pillars that had been removed sometime in the past. (Also replaced trunk sewer lines, did seismic upgrades and new lighting.)

    http://vancouver.ca/streets-transportation/burrard-bridge-and-pacific-street-intersection-upgrades.aspx
    https://pricetags.wordpress.com/2017/10/23/burrard-bridge-this-is-about-traffic-flow/
    http://www.voiceonline.com/vancouvers-historic-reopens/
    https://pricetags.wordpress.com/2017/10/23/burrard-bridge-a-civic-triumph-1/
    http://happypontist.blogspot.ca/2017/10/canadian-bridges-2-burrard-street.html

    Could this be done in Dublin?

  11. I guess the Law Society just want to keep car commute times down for their employees and easy access to their existing car parking spaces.

  12. Would it not make more sense to clearly only support option 7? If option 8 is insisted upon by the motoring lobby and goes ahead they would then be rightly blamed for the damage that is done to the bridge so that they can get their way.

  13. @aka
    The decision on which option to favor now lies with whichever consultancy group gets the contract to assess the various options. Whether we like or dislike the final decision, we unfortunately won’t have a say it seems.

  14. I’m a little confused as to why the Law Society is sticking their oar in here. Surely this can’t be just so their senior members can drive their big luxury cars right down to the cluster of legal institutions based around the Four Courts.

    I am completely against making alterations to an historic bridge just to facilitate motorists who insist on driving down the quays and are not willing to accept any delay or inconvenience despite using the most inefficient and disruptive form or transport.

    I am also completely against the ludicrous boardwalk with multiple pedestrian conflict chicanes. Luckily there is an obvious solution. Stop pandering to the motoring lobby and reduce the most inefficient form of traffic on the quays.

    I agree that this will be painted as DESTRUCTION of OUR CITIES HERITAGE by cyclists, those lycra lout, no road tax paying, incredibly dangerous, invisible ninja, law flouting, selfish idiots. I don’t agree that we trying to control the message will make a blind bit of difference to what appears in the newsrags or gets spouted by the likes of George Hook (who presumably has learned that while he can’t publicly blame women for being raped, he can continue to claim cyclists are all criminals since nobody said a thing when he did that). The Fairview park incident is the obvious example of this. Motorists refuse to give up any road space forcing the cycle path off the road and then cyclists get the blame for wanting to destroy the park (it was common for articles to imply that all the trees in the park were being cut down not just a small percentage). Making what is happening clear when you are talking about it is the right thing to do but I don’t expect it to make a blind bit of difference to what the general public thinks.

  15. I agree with Eric’s comment above. As a qualified planner, I see no reason why the historic humped back bridge should be interfered with, to effectively accommodate more cars.

  16. Why would a private organization, the law society, spend their members money on a report like this? I presume the clear and unambiguous declaration of interests at the front of the report clears this up….

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